Do the Suns have the Best Summer League Team?


Las Vegas, Nevada will be the host of this season’s NBA Summer League. A 10-day period filled with rookies looking to prove their spot in the league, and veterans hoping to make an NBA roster. For the Suns, this season is looking to be one of the best summer league teams Phoenix has ever had.

Headlining this Suns squad is top-10 draft picks, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. The big names don’t stop there. The Suns have another rookie stud in Tyler Ulis joining the team. Bender, Chriss, and Ulis will all be top players this summer. It isn’t really a question of whether or not they will be in a Suns’ jersey next season as all should have no problem claiming a spot. A bigger story is how many minutes they will all get during the regular season.

For Chriss, his time in college was spent as a scorer, and it should stay that way while he develops his rebounding skills. 13.8 PPG during his only college season shows exactly the type of game he played. The Suns drafted him based on his ability to score. He should continue to do so while he learns how to be aggressive on the boards. The best place for this to happen, Summer League.

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Bender is a little different. His Summer League is going to be more of a showcase to silence the haters. His numbers overseas were atrocious. 2.1 PPG and less than two RPG. He’s done nothing to prove he’s great. Being a Top-5 pick, he now has a weight the size of Texas on his shoulder and needs to prove he belongs in the NBA. The Suns obviously didn’t draft him because of his numbers. Most players get drafted based on potential, and Bender has a lot. If he comes with the fire he needs to prove himself, he could be the best player in Vegas this summer.

Then, there’s Tyler Ulis. A 2016 First-Team All-American, SEC Player of the Year, and Kentucky star. But what he’s defined as now, is a second-round NBA draft pick. Nevertheless, he will make noise in the NBA and Summer League. The Suns’ overabundance of guards is a problem now, but most likely won’t be by the end of the summer. Which gives Ulis an excellent opportunity to make a name for himself early and earn minutes during the regular season. He’s an all-around style guard which means he will be running the floor for the Suns during Summer League. It’s hard to think he’ll do anything but play well against the rest of his rookie class. He proved all of 2016 that he’s one of the best amongst them.

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A name that most don’t know, but should, is Kyle Kuric. The former Lousiville star is one of the most inspirational stories in basketball. After overcoming multiple brain surgeries to remove a tumor, Kuric has made his way onto the Phoenix Suns’ Summer League team. Based on his play in college, he has a high chance of making the Suns’ roster in 2016-2017. It’s just a matter of seeing how fast the rust will wear off being he hasn’t played since 2011.

Kuric still isn’t the biggest name on the team, though. 2015-2016 rookie sensation, Devin Booker, is joining this Summer League team, at least for a few games. After leading all rookies in free-throw percentage and 30+ point games with six. His First-Team All-Rooke selection solidified his place among the best first-year guys of 2015-2016. Now, he’ll look to carry the Phoenix Suns’ Summer League team to a championship and then help the USA Selection Team later in July.

With Chriss, Bender, Kuric, Ulis, and Booker, the Suns already have a strong lineup. Before the rest of their team is even released, they look to be one of the best. With a team mentality of build young, Summer League is the place to start. Pulling off a Summer League championship would mean a lot for a rebuilding team. Especially, since the Suns are looking to be in a position this season to make a move at the playoffs.

As the rest of the roster is released it will be clearer how this Suns team looks compared to other rosters. For now, they sit pretty high up the totem pole headed into Vegas.

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